Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend and enjoying this fantastic Atlanta weather. Weather that is this nice makes me want to be outside 24/7 and gets me so excited for spring and summer time. These seasons always put me in the mood to eat healthy and fresh foods all the time, which is perfect for my clean eating quest this month.

So this morning I woke up and made my way to Your DeKalb Farmers Market to pick up some super fresh produce. This was my first time to go to this farmers market, or any farmers market for that matter. Let me tell you, this place is awesome. It was overwhelming in the best kind of way. Farmers MarketIt is basically a huge warehouse with rows and rows of fresh fruits and veggies, fresh spices, fresh baked goods (which I managed to stay away from), flowers, baking supplies, coffees, nuts, and anything else you could ever want. The produce is very fresh and less expensive than the average grocery store. I basically fell in love with this place and plan on making it a weekly routine. It was really hard for me to stick to my grocery list, but I was able to stay well within my budget and got all of my produce (which is a lot), a big thing of quinoa, a big thing of lentils and all of the spices I don’t have already for the week. If you love food as much as I do I would definitely suggest checking it out as soon as possible! But my one suggestion is to go during the week; it was a total mad house today which made it a little hard to peruse the great selections of everything they have.

Okay now it is time for my first week of clean eating progress report! So far this experience has been pretty great. Once I got over that two day funk at the start of the week, my energy levels have been way up and I feel really fantastic.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are my new favorite sweet treat

One of the other side effects of eating clean I have experienced is that I am sleeping so much better. It used to take me so long to fall asleep at night (maybe due to my nighttime sweets habit) but this week I feel asleep so much faster after getting into bed. This was not a change I was expecting but I am so happy about it.

Another benefit to eating clean is that I have actually lost a couple of pounds this week. I know that a lot of that has to be from my body detoxing out the processed foods and me starting to exercise more regularly, but it is a side effect I would love to keep happening. It is almost swimsuit season after all! I will keep y’all posted about any other side-effects that might happen this next week.

I also learned a couple of things this week. The first thing I learned is that I can not eat a whole pot of beans in one week. It is not possible. So now I know I don’t need to make nearly as many as I did last week. The second thing I have learned is that soup is the absolute easiest thing to take to work for lunch. I plan on eating a lot of soup for lunch this week, as you can see in my meal plan below. Lastly, I have learned that I can survive without red wine. Which was previously thought to be impossible by many.

Now I am going to get in the kitchen and make some big batches of food to eat throughout this week. Also, my meal plan for the week is looking so delicious, I included it below. I hope you all have a great Sunday and didn’t forget about the time change! And as usual, feel free to shoot me an email at lstroud@bestselfatlanta.com if you have any tips, questions or recipes!

Meals

 

 

-Lizzy Stroud

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Life Coach and Author Karlicia Lewis is here to give her best advice about toxic relationships.

Karlicia Lewis

How would you define a toxic relationship?

An unhealthy situation that exists between two or more people. It has potential to cause mental, physical, emotional, financial and even sexual harm.

What are the pitfalls of allowing a toxic relationship to continue?

It can cause a decrease in self-esteem, turmoil in other relationships, depression and health problems.

Why do people allow toxic relationships in their lives?

Some people allow toxic relationships for the comfort of having someone around as a quick fix for loneliness. Some have associated toxic behavior with relationships since they were younger, due to being exposed to this behavior from their parents.

What is your advice for removing a toxic relationship from your life?

Make up your mind that you really want out. Then create a plan, including a support system to remove yourself in the safest way possible. Once removed, take the appropriate time to evaluate your past and understand your pattern of choosing the partners you choose so you won’t make the same mistakes in the future.

 

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Hello there! Is everyone ready for the weekend? I know I am. Now, as I mentioned in my first post, I have something of a sweet tooth. It has been a lifelong friend, but now it is something of a foe. One of the aspects of my clean eating plan is to cut out sugar, and I have been successful so far. But when I say cut out sugar, I don’t mean naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruits and vegetables. I mean added sugars, like those that come from sodas, baked goods, candy or simply adding sugar to your coffee or tea. Those are the things I am cutting out of my diet. No refined, ultra-processed white table sugar for me, or anything else with added sugars for that matter.

Sugar

Honestly, I have wanted to cut out added sugar from my diet for a while. I have been reading too many articles on how bad it is for your health to want to continue using it. From what I have seen, you get no added health benefit from eating sugar—it is pure energy, can cause a whole host of health problems and diseases, and is highly addictive.

Having said that, most of you are probably wondering how in the world I am going to survive these 30 days without my sweet fixes. I was feeling the same way before this month began. But that was before I discovered some great alternatives to sugar and to the sweets I loved so much.

First of all, I can still add a little sweetness into my day without using refined white sugar. White sugar is basically pure sucrose and gets stripped of all of its good qualities, like vitamins and minerals, when it gets processed and refined. I found sugar alternatives to add to my food that are pure and unrefined, and therefore still have their good qualities intact. My favorite sugar alternative is honey. While it has near the same amount of calories that table sugar has, it is much sweeter. A little goes a long way. I use natural and organic honey, which is also said to have antibacterial properties.  Honey

While honey is the only added sugar alternative I have used so far, there are a few others that work for a clean eating diet as well. Agave nectar is a sweetener from Mexico that comes from the agave cactus. It is much sweeter than table sugar and also has a few less calories, if you are worried about that kind of thing.

Other popular sugar alternatives for clean eaters are date sugar, coconut sugar and Stevia. I am planning to try some of these throughout the month, and I will keep you posted on how that goes.

This first week, I have tried out a few great recipes to curb my hungry sweet tooth, and they have done the job perfectly! Most of them revolved around fresh fruit, which makes them nice and sweet while still being clean. In my previous post about eating clean on a budget, I talked about cooking big batches of baked applesauce.

Apples

The apples… pre-smashing.

This recipe was so delicious and tasted just like apple pie. It has been the perfect light dessert to get my sweet fix after dinner. I plan on making a big batch of this again this weekend to enjoy all next week. I also found a great recipe for almond butter cookies that I am going to try out this weekend. And for the ultimate easy sweet snack . . . honeyed oranges! You just throw some oranges and honey into a bowl and let it sit for a bit. So simple and so delicious.

So that’s my two cents on sugar and sugar alternatives! Here are a few more recipes that I have tried since the last time I posted.

Quinoa Jambalaya from He and She Eat Clean - This recipe makes so much. I have been eating this for lunch for the past two days. I am all about embracing leftovers. I also used fresh diced tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes and chicken breast instead of turkey sausage.

Zucchini Pasta with Spinach Pesto – I am trying to stay away from too much cheese this month, but I used some fresh grated Parmesan for this yummy recipe.

Honeyed Oranges - As I said before, this is as easy as it gets and very delicious.

Check back in this weekend for a progress report from my first week of clean eating and to see my meal plan for next week! And as always, feel free to send any questions, advice or clean recipes to me at lstroud@bestselfatlanta.com! I would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful day!

- Lizzy Stroud

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Recipe adapted from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean. 

Yields: 4 servings 

Honeyed Oranges

Ingredients:

  • 4 navel oranges, peel and pith removed, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 tsp. honey
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon, optional

Prep:

  1. In a large bowl, toss orange pieces with honey and cinnamon, if using. Let sit for 20 minutes so the oranges can release juice and absorb flavor.
  2. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutritional Facts: 67 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 17 g carbs, 15 g sugars, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 0 mg sodium. Serving size: 1/2 cup

 

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Recipe adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt.

Yields 2-4 servings. 

Zucchini Pasta with Spinach Pesto 

Zucchini Pasta with Spinach Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis, peeled and cut into thin, pasta-like strips
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half length-wise
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • For Spinach Pesto:
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • A handful flat leaf parsley, stems removed
  • 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • Pepper, to taste.

Prep:

For Pesto: 

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

For Zucchini Pasta: 

1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, cherry tomatoes and garlic. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until zucchini is tender and warmed all the way through.

2. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 of your pesto to the pan and toss until zucchini is evenly covered. Top with Parmesan and serve hot.

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Dr. Thomas Lyons from DeKalb Medical Physicians Group answers a reader’s question about pregnancy and birth control.

Dr. Thomas Lyons

Q: I’ve been on birth control pills for five years. How long do I have to wait after stopping the pill to try for pregnancy and how long will it take to get pregnant?

A: The overall effect of the pill is to suppress ovulation, but the hormones in the pill don’t stay in the system beyond a day. This means you can start trying immediately after stopping the pill, but it will take about a week of no pill to allow the potential for ovulation and therefore pregnancy. If your cycle is regular after stopping the pill, your most fertile cycle will be the second one after you stop the pill. If you have six regular cycles and are not successful with getting pregnant, see your gynecologist.

Do you have questions for our doctors? If so, please email your questions to editorial@bestselfatlanta.com. 

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Brighter Tomorrow Hypnotherapy’s Valerie Cobbin is here to give you her best advice about toxic relationships.

Valerie Cobbin

How would you define a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is any relationship that is very negative in nature and drains your energy rather than boosts it.

What are the pitfalls of allowing a toxic relationship to continue?

The subconscious mind is always listening and recording everything, so a toxic relationship can cause you to act out negatively in future relationships.

Why do people allow toxic relationships in their lives?

People allow toxic relationships in their lives because of the fear of letting go of the relationship.

What is your advice for removing a toxic relationship from your life?

My advice for removing a toxic relationship form your life is that it is always best to deal with the problem and understand why you are attracting negative energy into your life.

Where can people go for support?

One of the best supports for people in a toxic relationship is prayer and meditation. Prayer affects the subconscious and allows deep emotional healing if asked for.

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When you’re stuck in traffic, it may be hard to appreciate the beauty and landmarks of our city so get a different perspective by joining Atlanta Running Tours. Go on three-mile or six-mile group runs that take you jogging past fun areas of the city. Atlanta Running Tours Tour guide Kristy Duckworth will point out Atlanta facts and history as you pass landmarks like the CNN Center, the state capital, the World of Coke, the Aquarium and the Fox Theatre. Each tour includes a T-shirt, water, snack and digital photos taken throughout the tour that will be emailed to you afterward. $35 for three miles, $50 for six miles.

Details: www.atlantarunningtours.com  

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Hey guys, I hope everyone is having a great week so far and having a great Fat Tuesday! Okay, now I am going to be totally honest with you. The first few days of clean eating haven’t been the most fun days in my life. I didn’t wake up after eating clean and feel like a whole new girl. In fact, I felt a little funky for the first two days. I did my research, and I am pretty sure this is just my body getting used to eating all of this clean, healthy food. It misses its processed junk food, but it will get used to my new diet eventually. However, I feel much better today and hopefully will feel even better and more energetic in the coming days. Now with that disclaimer out of the way, I have some tips on how I have planned to eat clean while on a budget.

One of the biggest reasons that I have put off eating clean and healthy for so long is because I thought it would be too costly and time consuming. While it can be a bit time consuming, I did not spend any more than I usually do at the grocery store this week. Something that has been really helpful for me has been to take advantage of deals. Two for one bags of baby spinach? Yes, please. Two for $5 containers of strawberries? HerbsYes again. While these deals won’t be available every week, there will always be something new on sale. I plan on taking advantage of those deals as much as possible. Another little way to save some cash is to plant your own herb garden. Fresh herbs can get a little pricey when you are buying them every week, so I started a little makeshift herb garden on my balcony with basil, rosemary and thyme to help with those costs. Hopefully I can keep them alive in this ever-changing Atlanta weather!

One of the budget benefits I have found from eating clean is that since I have my meals and snacks planned for the week, I have an exact grocery list to shop from. I don’t go to the grocery store and get distracted by the gourmet cheeses or the goodies in the bakery anymore. I know what I am in there for, and that is all I get. Meal planning has all but eliminated my impulse shopping, at least in the grocery store.

Another way that I have found to eat clean on a budget is to make big batches of things I will eat throughout the week. This weekend, I spent a few hours making homemade applesauce, hummus, beans and soups that I can eat throughout the week. Also, making these things on your own instead of buying them will save you some money. A bag of dried beans is very inexpensive and makes a ton of food. White Beans I made White Beans with Rosemary and they will be a great side dish or small snack to have all week long. On the subject of hummus, a can of chickpeas is less than a dollar, and making your own hummus ensures you know exactly what is going in to it. I love hummus because there are endless combinations of flavors you can make. This week I made spicy hummus with cumin and parsley, and next week I might make garlic hummus or red pepper hummus. It is a great way to keep your snack game fresh so you won’t get bored.

Another thing to consider is the cost of eating out versus cooking your own meals. It is too early in my 30 days to tell, but I think that cooking all my meals will eventually end up saving me some serious cash. While pizza and drive-thru restaurants seem cheap at the time, they can add up over a month.

So those are a few of my tips for eating clean on a budget, and I am proof that it is possible not to break the bank in order to eat a clean and healthy diet.

Last but not least here are a few of the things I have made so far and loved:

Greek Chicken from He and She Eat Clean - I loved this recipe. I served it with a spinach salad with garlic and olives.

Salsa Chicken from He and She Eat Clean - I love a good crock pot recipe. They are another way to make weeknight cooking easy.

Carrot Soup from Myrecipes.com - If you love carrots, this is the soup for you.

Lentil and Kale Soup - This makes a huge batch and will last at least a week!

Homemade Apple Sauce - I have been eating this for a sweet treat after dinner.

Homemade Spicy Hummus- This recipe is super versatile. You can add any of your favorite flavors.

White Beans with Rosemary - This also makes a ton of food, and I can snack on them all week.

Tonight I am making Quinoa Jambalaya in honor of Mardi Gras! Check back in later this week for more recipes and clean eating info!

-Lizzy Stroud

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Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean 

Yields: 12 servings 

Lentil and Kale Soup

Kale and Lentil Soup

Ingredients: 

  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 lb bag of dried brown lentils, rinsed and checked for stones
  • 6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 TB. fresh basil, chopped

Prep:

  1. Heat olive oil in a 4-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add lentils, chicken stock, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add kale, tomato, pepper, salt, lemon zest and basil. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.

Nutritional Facts: 188 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 30 g carbs, 2 g sugars, 0 mg cholesterol, 13 g fiber, 236 mg sodium. Serving Size: 1 cup

Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean

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